They finally had almost the entire roster intact on Friday night, but it wouldn’t mean anything if the Spokane Shadow didn’t come out and play well.
Two goals in the first 7 minutes gave the Shadow the lead, and they scratched and clawed to hang on to a 3-2 Premier Development League soccer win over the Abbotsford Rangers in front of 552 fans at Joe Albi Stadium.
With the victory, Spokane (5-4-0, 15 points) will put its second-place standing in the Northwest Division on the line against the Yakima Reds (4-3-2, 14) tonight at 7 o’clock at Albi.
Spokane scored 40 seconds in as midfielder Ben Funkhouser’s left-footed free kick from 18 yards to the left of the penalty box found the feet of teammates Dustin Allbery and Lamar Kumangai-McGee, before Allbery finally hammered it into the net for his team-high sixth goal of the year.
Six minutes later, Skye Henderson received a pass from Jake Moug while cutting right across the top of the penalty box, driving the ball back toward the far post, off the post and in for a 2-0 lead – Henderson’s fourth goal of the season.
It was important for the Shadow to get off to a fast start, reminiscent of a June 4 win over the Rangers, when Spokane scored three times in the first half on the way to a 3-0 win.
Spokane got sloppy, though, letting Abbotsford (1-9-0, 3) back into the game.
“It happens, especially in a game where you get ahead 2-0 in the first 7 minutes,” Shadow head coach Kieran Barton said. “It’s hard to get them to keep the same amount of focus. They figure if they play the next 83 minutes, they should win 15-, 16-0. It never happens like that.”
Spokane continued to have chances, but couldn’t extend its lead. In the 79th minute, an Abbotsford shot from a tough angle resulted in a rebound and goal for James Riehl to make the score 2-1.
Another Funkhouser free kick gave the Shadow the insurance they would need, when another from the left side forced an outstanding save by Rangers goalie Colin Jenks. Jenks collided with the near post, leaving Shadow substitute Jared Crabtree alone to clean up, scoring his first goal of the year in the 86th minute.
“I’m just trying to put it behind the defense because it’s tough for them to run backward and head it forward,” said Funkhouser of his free-kick strategy. “It puts our players in a good position, because even if they don’t get to the ball first, it’s probably going to stay in the box.”
“Worst-case scenario, when we get the ball out to him (on the left wing), he gets us corner kicks,” Barton said. “The best they can do is force it over the end line.”
Abbotsford drew within one again in the 90th minute on a header by defender Jordan Langelaar off a corner kick – making it as close as the Rangers have been in two years of losing to Spokane.
Barton told his team at halftime, up 2-0, that the next goal would direct the flow of the game.
“If they got it, it was going to be a dogfight, and if we got it, it should be over,” Barton said. “Fortunately, we were able to rebound after they got their first one and go back up 3-1.”
Barton made six substitutions, important because he could rest some of his starters for tonight’s game with Yakima.
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